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The dreaded dissertation timeline

Things are slowly moving forward. I’ve got an IRB approval, I’ve got a proposal mostly written, and I’ve passed along the needed equipment list to school-PI for purchase. Once I finish my proposal modifications, I should be ready to start scheduling my proposal defense. At which point, I should have the greenlight to collect my data and, in a perfect world, graduate soon! But…

There is one roadblock that I’m not sure will be so easily worked out. Since I now work at a hospital (yay), from what I was recently told I need to get IRB approval from my work as well before I can do my school research. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but that’s what I was told so I’m just going to have to go along with it until someone higher up tells me otherwise. I’ve asked for clarification, but who knows if or when that will come.

This alone isn’t a huge deal, the university and hospital have a history of collaboration and have IRB agreements in place to help make this go as quickly as possible. The nice thing is that the school side is already done, so I just need to submit an amendment to add the hospital. On the hospital side, I need to give them a copy of the IRB to review it and make sure it’s inline with what they feel is appropriate and best practices to keep people safe. Basically they need to review the IRB and make sure it would be something they would approve as well before giving me the go ahead to do the research.

That isn’t the issue either, the big issue here is time.

Currently IRB approval on the hospital side has been slowed to almost a halt. This obviously has caused a lot of headaches for research on the hospital side, including the recent disappointment I had to deal with yesterday. It could be months (with an s) until I get hospital IRB approval. Obviously this isn’t ideal, so I’m sincerely hoping the person I’ve been communicating with is not correct.

Bumping back IRB approval by a few months would mean condensing the data collection and analysis phases. Both if which will take a considerable amount of time as it is and then I have to work full time on top of that, so the more time I can have the better.

Does this mean I won’t graduate on time? Not exactly, I could in theory collect all the data and power through the analysis. I would be getting very little sleep at that point, but it wouldn’t be impossible to do. That’s the worst case scenario, but for the moment things are going to be up in the air until I get confirmation and start the process.

If I’m lucky, I will be able to start the hospital IRB process then do my proposal defense while it’s going through the process. At least at that point, once I have approval I can start right away. Getting the proposal defense out of the way will at least get one milestone out of the way and will not hold anything up further. If I have to wait to have my IRB approved before I can defend it could be upwards of a month or more tacked onto the process because I wouldn’t be able to defend my proposal right way due to scheduling.

Overall, not great news, but at least nothing is set in stone yet. It’s turning into one of those weeks. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that I can get this all sorted out or that I don’t need a hospital IRB. Alternatively that if I need an IRB approval from the hospital that it won’t take as long as we anticipate.

It’s either that or a lot of late nights if I want to graduate on time, but as usual it’s a wait and see thing.


2 responses

  1. If true, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either. Are they worried that you might jeopardize the hospital’s reputation by association if you did dubious research on your own time? That’s about all I can think.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 22, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    • Right? I’m incredibly confused by the news. I am still looking for clarification, I’m hoping tomorrow will be the day I get answers.

      I think it’s because the hospital is now my primary affiliation so any professional work I do needs to go through them as well, but that feels weird since my PhD is technically done in my off time (as in not work time). It’s like asking my employer for permission to do something for myself and that makes no sense to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      March 23, 2022 at 5:58 pm

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